Area bass fishermen yearning for competitive events haven’t had a lot of opportunity this spring in this area. The number of buddy bass tournament sheld out of Paris Landing this year have been down compared to times past but a big one is coming up.
It’s the annual Johnny Johnson and Paul Steele Memorial Charity Bass Tournament returning to Kentucky Lake out of Paris Landing State Park marina on Saturday. The popular event is sponsored by Hulme Sporting Goods, Village of Paris Landing and Two Rivers Bass Club.
There will be a $3,000 first-place guarantee plus a $500 guaranteed big fish pot. Even the smallest 5-bass limit will earn a $100 payout.
Entry fee is $120 a boat. Proceeds from the event support scholarships and community youth programs through the nonprofit Two River Bass Club organization.
Entry forms for the tournament are available by calling Larry Dunlap at 731-336-2000. Registration starts at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday.
NATIONAL SAFE BOATING WEEK
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is again an active participant in National Safe Boating Week, starting Saturday and continuing through May 26. The annual event serves as a reminder to promote safe boating activity and preparation for the summer boating season.
National Safe Boating Week is held each year in the week prior to Memorial Day weekend. Boating partners across the United States and Canada are teaming up to emphasize safe boating practices, including wearing life jackets for National Safe Boating Week and throughout the 2023 boating season. The TWRA and partner organizations continue to prioritize educating the boating community about the importance of wearing life jackets and available options that are more lightweight and comfortable.
“Life jackets can save your life, but only if you wear them,” said Betsy Woods, TWRA boating education coordinator. “As always, we want our boaters to have an enjoyable, safe time on our waters across the state.”
Tennessee offers boating enthusiasts an abundance of opportunities to enjoy the resources across the state. Memorial Day weekend is May 27-29 and viewed as the unofficial start to the summer boating season.
The TWRA reports there has been a noticeable increase in traffic on the state’s lakes and rivers the last few years, especially in paddlecraft. Thus far in 2023, there have been nine statewide fatalities, one more than at the same time last year. Two of the incidents occurred in back-to-back days on May 12-13. Four of the fatalities have involved paddlecraft.
Recommended tips for boaters:
• Take a boating safety course. Gain valuable knowledge and on-water experience in a boating safety course with many options for novice to experienced boaters.
• Check equipment. Schedule a free vessel safety check with local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons to make sure all essential equipment is present, working and in good condition.
• Make a float plan. Always let someone on shore know the trip itinerary, including operator and passenger information, boat type and registration, and communication equipment on board.
• Wear a life jacket. Make sure everyone wears a life jacket – every time. A stowed life jacket is no use in an emergency.
• Use an engine cut-off device. An engine cut-off device, or engine cut-off switch, is a proven safety device to stop the boat’s engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard.
• Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before departing on the water and frequently during the excursion.
• Know what’s going on around you at all times. Nearly a quarter of all reported boating accidents last year were caused by operator inattention or improper lookout.
• Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Be familiar with the area, local boating speed zones and always travel at a safe speed.
• Never boat under the influence. A BUI is involved in one-third of all recreational boating fatalities. Always designate a sober skipper.
• Keep in touch. Have more than one communication device that works when wet. VHF radios, emergency locator beacons, satellite phones, and cellphones can all be important devices in an emergency.
BLUEGILL BLOWOUT RESULTS
Last Saturday’s annual Bluegill Blowout fishing tournament and fundraiser for Covenant Ranch here in Henry County was another successful event despite heavy rains that curtailed participation.
There was some heavy rain and thunderstorms challenging the participants but some pretty good stringers of fish were taken by those willing to brave the elements and show up for a good cause.
First place went to the team of Landon and Eric Lockridge for a hefty stringer of shellcracker that tipped the scales at 22.85 pounds. That was comprised of a tournament limit of 20 fish.
Second place went to Team Jenko consisting of Will Robey and Jacob Autry with 14.42 pounds. Third place was the team of Marcus Rudd, Ray Lambert and Dean McCoy with 12.30 pounds.
Big fish was a shellcracker weighing 1.50 pounds by Team Jenko but another team had one that weighed 1.47 pounds for a close second.
TURKEY HARVEST UPDATE
Tennessee turkey hunters are about to hit the home stretch in this year’s spring season. It officially ends on May 28.
Harvest results from across the state show a total of 30,210 birds have been taken this season so far. The leader among the state’s 95 counties is Maury, where hunters have already chalked up 876 thus far.
Locally, Henry County hunters have amassed a total of 523 since the season opened, which includes the youth hunt.
From surrounding counties come the following totals: Benton (312), Carroll (463), Stewart (372) and Weakley (529).
RIVER DAYS AT LBL’S NATURE STATION
Cruise over to the Woodlands Nature Station this Memorial Day Weekend, May 27-28, for River Days. Enjoy live animals, activities, crafts, and programs all dedicated to celebrating our rivers and lakes. Get up close and personal with LBL’s lake and swamp creatures and discover what makes them so special.
Celebrate the water all around us by bringing your whole family to have fun at the Nature Station. Hours of visitation will be 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The facility’s address within LBL is 3146 Silver Trail Road in Cadiz, Ky.
CATFISH/BLUEGILL BITE HOLDS UP
Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene has experienced another pretty good week, especially for bluegill and catfishermen as the bite has held up well.
Still in active bedding phases are bluegill and a few scattered redear sunfish, better known as shellcracker. Good catches have been reported throughout the week as surface temperatures heat up. Coolers full of bluegill have been coming in on a consistent basis.
Surface temperatures have climbed to the 75- to 76-degree range this week in the aftermath of some hot and humid weather.
Lake levels are hanging around the 359.4-feet range at Kentucky Dam this week. That’s still a few inches above the summer pool level of 359, which has helped inundate a lot of shoreline habitat for bass, bluegill and shellcracker fishermen.
Water color remains clear across the reservoir despite several days of rain mixed with a few thunderstorms.
Bluegill are holding on to an aggressive bite and fanning spawning beds in 3- to 6-foot depth ranges. The dark adult males are really protecting spawning crater beds, which means great action awaits anglers tossing a cricket or redworm in their locale.
Bobbers have been disappearing on a regular basis for legions of bluegill and shellcracker anglers. There are still some nice size shellcracker being taken — several of which are hitting the 1-pound-plus mark — but big numbers of fish have not been the norm.
There’s another couple of weeks of bedding time left, so hop to it and wet a hook while these feisty panfish are territorial.
The catfish bite has also held up well this week. Some dandy stringers are being caught from the typical rocky areas along the shorelines of Kentucky Lake. The spawning phases of catfish should keep a few fish shallow into early June when they start to pull away and head deeper.
Bass fishermen have been beating the shallow grass beds and scoring decent catches from the shallow aquatic vegetation. Texas rigged craws, lizards and worms have worked as have spinnerbaits and some topwater in the early morning and late afternoon hours.
Some boats are already backing off the banks and stalking humps and ledges with the summer pattern of big deep diving crankbaits, Texas rigged worms, Carolina rigs and some swim baits.
Scattered crappie have been taken by a few skilled anglers stalking structure. Scattered fish are lingering in the 9- to 14-foot depth range. It’s a typical post-spawn pattern requiring fishermen to make a lot of stops in their attempts to accumulate numbers.
Saturday — Paul Steele/Johnny Johnson Memorial Bass Tournament, Paris Landing State Park.
Saturday through May 26 — National Safe Boating Week.
May 27-28 — River Days, Land Between the Lakes Woodlands Nature Station.
May 28 — Turkey season ends.
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